The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
Publication Date: May 21, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Review Source: eARC Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads): When all signs point to heartbreak, can love still be a rule of the road? A poignant and romantic novel from the author of Bittersweet and Twenty Boy Summer.
Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one.
Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she’s spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle—which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude’s fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?
Jude tells herself it’s strictly bike business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away—no way would she fall for them. But Jude’s defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she’s speeding toward some serious heartbreak…unless her sisters were wrong?
Jude may have taken an oath, but she’s beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking.
I loved this book. Seriously. Loved it. I loved it so much that I've been kicking myself for never having read a Sarah Ockler book before this. How have I not read any yet? I even own both Twenty Boy Summer and Bittersweet. What is wrong with me?! If those are anything like The Book of Broken Hearts I'm going to be so mad for letting them just sit on my shelf for so long!
But let's focus for a few minutes on this book. Because I loved it (did you hear?) and I definitely think you should read it. We not only get a little bit of romance between Jude and Emilio (a new favorite!), we get a truly touching view into the relationship of a father with early onset Alzheimer's and his youngest daughter during the summer before she moves away for college. It is heartbreaking, emotional, and beautiful. It made me cry. And I almost never cry during books. I know I won't be able to do it justice here with my words, but this book seriously touched my heart.
A few things I liked best about this book were the main character Jude, her relationships with her sisters, the focus on family, and, of course, the romance. Jude is a wonderful MC and while she did have a problem sticking up for herself and really knowing what it was she wanted, she was brave and hopeful and loyal. Where there times I wanted to punch her for being such a pushover? Sure. But she grew up during the book and that's pretty much what it was all about. And the way she dealt with her father and his disease was much stronger than I could have ever been. Jude's relationships with her sisters changed as she changed throughout the book and even though I've never had sisters, let alone three who were much older than me, I appreciate the way they tried to take care of her and the way she always felt left out of their group. Emilio was pretty perfect as the male interest, a bit of a mysterious bad boy with a motorcycle and scars (literally and figuratively) but also a heart of gold. All of these components combined with the heartache of Alzheimer's made for one emotional ride and an excellent book.
Final Thoughts: Read this book. If you are a fan of YA Contemporaries, I really think you'll like this one. It was more emotional than I was expecting and the romance was definitely not the main focus, but it was a beautiful book about growing up, changing relationships, what's really important, not taking things for granted, seizing the moment, and all of those other things we sometimes forget about when we're busy focusing on our futures and goals instead of the present. I'm still heartbroken over her father's disease and his moments towards the end left me in tears. But the characters are strong so we're also left with hope. Not that her father will be able to beat the disease, but that love is real and broken hearts can be mended. I gave The Book of Broken Hearts 5 stars and highly recommend that you read it.
I'm excited to be participating in a Book Blitz today for Plastic Hearts by Lisa De Jong, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours. If you don't know this book yet, it's the first in a New Adult Contemporary series. Take a minute to read all about it below and be sure to check out the excerpt!
Plastic Hearts (Hearts #1) by Lisa De Jong
Level: New Adult
Publication Date: February 27, 2013
Summary: My life has always been safe. I like it that way. I grew up in a fake society where plastic hearts rule. If our hearts are made of plastic, they can never be broken. My parents have expectations and I do everything I can to meet them, even if it means giving up on my own dreams.
Now, all I want is to be free to make my own choices.
Dane Wright is everything I have been warned to stay away from. We met one night while I was with my perfect, parent-approved boyfriend and I haven’t stopped thinking about him. I don’t want to like him. I am doing everything I can to ignore his pull, but my heart seems to want what it cannot have, what it has never had.
Can he measure up? He may think I am too good for him, but maybe he is too good for me.
Life is a series of choices and I have never been able to make my own. Until one day, when my heart decides to make a choice for me.
Recommended for mature readers due to sexual content and language
I felt a finger under my chin, lifting my gaze back up to his eyes. “Hi,” he said. I couldn’t quite hear his voice, but I could read his amazing lips under the strobe lights. God, he was beautiful, the type of beautiful that renders me temporarily speechless. I wasn’t sure how long I stood there searching for something to say, but it was long enough for me to completely forget my own name.
“I’m here with my boyfriend,” I finally blurted. It came out so quickly I wasn’t even sure he understood a word I said. Why did I always turn into a blabbering mess when I was nervous? Did I mention that when he smiled, two magnificent dimples appeared? Dammit.
I watched him look around and then he smiled. “I don’t see a boyfriend. Sorry, you’re going to have to come up with something a little better than that. Try again.” Who did this guy think he was?
I pressed my lips into a tight line. “No, I’m really here with my boyfriend. Right, Jade?” I turned around to pull her into the conversation, but she was gone. This was not going well. This mystery man had unnerved me by putting his hands on my body and flashing those incredible dimples and there was no one around to save me. I was stuck on the dance floor with a sexy stranger while my boyfriend and best friend were nowhere to be found. Ryan was probably sitting at the bar, slowly nursing his first beer, while Jade was doing God knows what with a guy whose name she would never know.
I hesitantly turned back toward him until our eyes met again. He seemed amused as he continued to smile down at me. “So do you want to keep dancing? Or can I buy you a drink?” He shouted over the music.
I personally haven't had the chance to read this one yet, but I definitely will be soon! Between the excerpts I got to read and all the great reviews it's getting on Goodreads and Amazon, I can't pass it up. Let me know if you've read it or if you're planning on picking it up!
How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer
Review Source: eARC from Publisher via Edelweiss
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads): From Sarah Strohmeyer, author of Smart Girls Get What They Want, comes this romantic comedy about one girl's summer job from hell. Think The Devil Wears Prada set in Disney World.
When cousins Zoe and Jess land summer internships at the Fairyland Kingdom theme park, they are sure they've hit the jackpot. With perks like hot Abercrombie-like Prince Charmings and a chance to win the coveted $25,000 Dream & Do grant, what more could a girl want?
Once Zoe arrives, however, she's assigned to serve "The Queen"-Fairyland's boss from hell. From spoon-feeding her evil lapdog caviar, to fetching midnight sleeping tonics, Zoe fears she might not have what it takes to survive the summer, much less win the money.
Soon backstabbing interns, a runaway Cinderella, and cutthroat competition make Zoe's job more like a nightmare than a fairy tale. What will happen when Zoe is forced to choose between serving The Queen and saving the prince of her dreams?
How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True was a cute YA romance novel. It had some interesting characters, a setting I haven't really seen much in books, some fun twists and turns, and a cute romance. But it wasn't anything spectacular.
How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True tells the story of Zoe's summer internship at Fairyland, a theme park very similar to Disney World. Zoe and her cousin Jess have both been accepted for positions at the park and both have very different reasons for wanting to attend. For Jess, she needs to win the Dream & Do grant offered to one of the interns at the end of the summer to be able to afford college. Zoe goes because she wants to feel closer to her mother, who passed away and used to bring her to the park when she was younger. When they arrive, they meet their fellow interns and are given their assignments. Jess gets a character to play and Zoe ends up as the assistant to the Queen, who turns out to be very demanding. Zoe spends the rest of her summer running ridiculous errands for the Queen and her dog, filling in wherever she is needed, and waking up extra early to attend to the Queen. What Zoe and Jess thought would be a fun summer spent at the theme park entertaining kids turns into a stressful, unfriendly place full of people they aren't sure they can trust. In the end, they all need to decide which side they are on and what is most important to them: their friends and family, the park, or the money.
Overall the book was very cute. The beginning threw me a little and I had a hard time really accepting the Queen and the things that Zoe would do for her. I've never been in a position like that, so who knows what I would actually do. I also had a difficult time because the Queen is almost exactly like what I remember the boss being like in 'The Devil Wears Prada', so it did not feel at all original. I wanted to hate her for taking Zoe's summer away but mostly I was just annoyed with Zoe for putting up with such ridiculous requests and never standing up for herself. But she was doing it all for her cousin, so I can at least understand that part. The rest of the characters were pretty good, though they did tend to be pretty typical of books like this. But still, it worked and was enjoyable.
Unfortunately, Zoe just didn't live up to my expectations. When I read Smart Girls Get What They Want I was completely blown away. I had been looking for a book that was a light, fun, quick read but came away with life lessons I wasn't expecting. So when I saw Sarah Strohmeyer's new book, I was super excited. I couldn't wait to find out what we would be reading about this time, what journey Zoe and her cousin would go on, and what I would bring away from the book in the end. But unfortunately, this second book did not have nearly the same impact that the first one did. It may have been that I set myself up. I had zero expectations with Smart Girls but very high expectations with Zoe. If I read them in reverse order, it's hard to say how I would feel about both of them. I think that's the trouble with sophomore novels, many times they come with high expectations that weren't there with the debut. But I am glad I read Zoe and went on her journey, glad to experience another Strohmeyer novel, whether it was as good as the first or not. I will continue to look forward to more books from her. I think Sarah Strohmeyer is a great writer and has important stories to tell that make an important contribution to the YA book world. I hope we'll see more books like Smart Girls and Zoe from her in the future.
Final Thoughts: How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True was a cute romance novel. It was a quick, fun, light read but didn't quite live up to the expectations I had for a Strohmeyer novel. And, while this has little relevance for me when reviewing a book, I do have to say that I LOVE the new covers for these books. In the end I gave Zoe 3.5 stars and would definitely recommend this book as a fun summer read.
Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell
Review Source: ARC from ARCycling
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads): Big-hearted Chloe Camden is the queen of her universe until her best friend shreds her reputation and her school counselor axes her junior independent study project. Chloe is forced to take on a meaningful project in order to pass, and so she joins her school’s struggling radio station, where the other students don’t find her too queenly. Ostracized by her former BFs and struggling with her beloved Grams’s mental deterioration, lonely Chloe ends up hosting a call-in show that gets the station much-needed publicity and, in the end, trouble. She also befriends radio techie and loner Duncan Moore, a quiet soul with a romantic heart. On and off the air, Chloe faces her loneliness and helps others find the fun and joy in everyday life. Readers will fall in love with Chloe as she falls in love with the radio station and the misfits who call it home.
Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe is a quick, fun, light YA contemporary book that will leave the reader thinking about the people they care about and how change can sometimes be a good thing..
In Welcome, Caller, we follow Chloe through the second half of her junior year of high school. All juniors attending her school must complete a project known as a JISP or Junior Independent Study Project. Chloe thinks her project on the villains of daytime soaps has already been approved, but on the first day back after winter break, she has a new counselor and a new project. She also needs to find her two best friends, who were MIA over break and have been acting weird ever since. Chloe needs to find out what the whispers that are following her around are all about, why her friends still can't be found, and why she, who is funny, bubbly, andloved by all, is now a social outcast. Along the way, she'll learn about herself, how to be a better friend, and find a few new things that are important to her.
Welcome, Caller was one of those books that are fun and quick reads but don't have much meat to them. It makes a perfect book to read when you want a something light, like a filler in between those big heavy books or a sitting in the sun during the summer book. Chloe is the kind of character that wants to bring fun to everyone and help anyone who needs it so nothing ever really gets too dark. There is some minor conflict between some characters and a worthwhile plot but nothing that really brings the book down. It's not all laughing but it does end happily. It's just a nice book that will entertain you enough to keep you reading but not dark enough to bring down those sunny, happy days.
I will admit that I wasn't completely in love with Chloe. I got a little bit tired of listening to her spout about how awesome she was. We get to hear how much she loves people, how much people love her, how she's always there for other people, how she's super funny, and awesome and everything. It got a bit old. I understood who she was early on and didn't need to be hit over the head with it throughout the book. But she does do some growing and learning during the book, so I could forgive her a little.
Final Thoughts: Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe is a fun, quick book that will keep you reading. The supporting characters, including Duncan, Grams, Clementine, A. Lungren, and Brie and Merce, are all interesting with their different background stories that kept me wanting to learn more about them even when I wasn't a fan of Chloe. The plot is decent and engaging enough to feel important but not heavy. I definitely enjoyed Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe and gave it 3.5 stars. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a light, quick contemporary read.
Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt
Review Source: eARC from publisher via NetGalley
Publication Date: March 26, 2013
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads): When Mallory’s boyfriend, Jeremy, cheats on her with an online girlfriend, Mallory decides the best way to de-Jeremy her life is to de-modernize things too. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in1962, Mallory swears off technology and returns to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn’t cheat with computer avatars). The List:
1. Run for pep club secretary
2. Host a fancy dinner party/soiree
3. Sew a dress for Homecoming
4. Find a steady
5. Do something dangerous
But simple proves to be crazy-complicated, and the details of the past begin to change Mallory’s present. Add in a too-busy grandmother, a sassy sister, and the cute pep-club president–who just happens to be her ex’s cousin–and soon Mallory begins to wonder if going vintage is going too far.
Going Vintage is a perfect example of a funny, quick YA contemporary. I read this book after a string of fantasy and science-fiction books and it was the perfect palate cleanser that also helped to bring me out of my slight slump. For some reason this March has been hard for me to get through books. But I read Going Vintage in about a day and a half, the fastest I've read a book in a long time. And that was simply because I enjoyed it, fell in love with the characters, and wanted to know how the story ended. Sometimes, things don't have to be so complicated. And this book proved exactly that, in more ways than one.
In Going Vintage, our main character is Mallory. She has had the same boyfriend, Jeremy, for thirteen months. She's crazy about him, she thinks, and spends most of her time with him, helping him, and making out with him. But one day while working on his computer she finds that his online game that he loves appears to be more than just a game to him. He's been emailing with a girl about real life stuff for months and Mallory dumps him. She's been burned by the internet and can see only one way through this. While cleaning out her grandmother's old house, she finds a list that her grandmother wrote in 1962 when she was sixteen. It was simple. A list of things she wanted to accomplish by the time her junior year of high school was over. Mallory decides she wants her life to be simple like her grandmother's was. So she goes vintage. She dumps technology. Anything invented after 1962 was a no-go. No cell phones, no computers, no internet, no FriendSpace (Facebook), no texting, no cordless phone, no GPS, etc. She will get past her pain, and the internet rumors and reputation killers, by getting back to a simpler life.
Of course, as Mallory will learn, nothing is ever simple. Just because the internet didn't exist in 1962, it doesn't mean that teenagers had an easy life back then. There were still bullies, reputations to think about, bad boyfriends who cheated, and homework. And Mallory begins to realize these things as her time away from modern technology goes on. She also realizes that the friends she thought she had and the relationships they had might not be quite real. People are different online than they are in real life and teenagers today are interacting more and more online and on their phones rather than face-to-face. It's an interesting development, that one can have 500 friends on Facebook (or Friendspace in this book) but when they need to talk to some in person can't find anyone who will be there for them. I like how this book dealt with those issues.
One of my favorite things about this book was the characters. My absolute favorite was Ginnie, Mallory's younger sister. She was completely different from Mallory but also her biggest supporter. When Mallory told her about her crazy plan, she jumped right on board. The sisters had a bond that I will never fully understand, but I was so happy that they had each other, especially since their parents were a little out of the loop. I also really liked Mallory as an MC, although she did get a little self-centered and mopey around the middle. Oliver, the boy, was of course great. I liked that while he seemed perfect, he wasn't.
My one dislike of the book was the ending. It felt abrupt. There was so much build-up with completing the list and then it was just over. I kind of liked the way it ended, the words were perfect, I just wish there had been a little bit more. It wrapped everything up in just a couple of pages. I'm not sure if it's fair to dock a point when really all I'm saying is that I wanted more, but I'm going to anyway.
Final Thoughts: This book was absolutely adorable. There isn't any kind of ground-breaking solution to the problems teenagers face with the internet, but it does pose some interesting questions regarding it. Plus, the writing is funny, the book is a very quick read, the characters are enjoyable, it is thoroughly adorable, and also full of lists! If you like fun YA contemporaries, check out Going Vintage.